CINCINNATI — A Northern Kentucky art teacher is going to the Super Bowl thanks to a super-charged social media campaign crafted by her students.
Katie Von Handorf, who watches every Bengals game in costume and goes by the Twitter handle @TheMaskedBenGal, racked up more than 13 million views on TikTok this week with videos created by her students. That led to a promise of free airfare by Frontier Airlines and a gift of two tickets to the game by Logan Thirtyacre, a YouTube influencer.
“I cannot believe my kids did this. I just don’t have words, I really don’t,” said Von Handorf, who has taught at St. Henry District High School in Erlanger for 13 years.
Logan Thirtyacre is a puppeteer from Pensacola, Fla., who gained acclaim with the 2008 YouTube series, “Mario and Luigi’s Stupid and Dumb Adventures.” He’s also a huge fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who spent $800,000 in 2020 in a charity auction to spend a day with Quarterback Tom Brady.
“I was on TikTok last night and I saw a bunch of high school students trying to give their teacher a Super Bowl trip,” Thirtyacre said. “They uploaded a video showing the teacher when she was a little kid in her Bengals outfit. And I’m like, ‘She’s been a fan her whole life. She needs to go.’”
St. Henry senior Natalie Stich said her friend Riley Spellman came up with the idea because Von Handorf’s students “know how much of a superfan she is.” So, on Monday, she posted the first of seven videos, the first of which attracted 9.5 million views in three days.
“We knew we had to get her there and we needed some extra help doing that,” Stich said. “Everything went right. Riley’s been orchestrating this entire thing. We are just so thankful. It’s just crazy. We can’t believe it.”
Natalie’s father, Michael Stich, is a partner in the digital market firm, CourtAvenue.
“If you keyword search ‘Bengal’ on Instagram, because it’s gone so viral on TikTok, it’s now number two on Instagram as well,” Stich said. “So, all of these community managers that are working for Frontier Airlines, Bed Bath & Beyond and others, are getting involved by giving away free tickets or free merch. They see what is going viral and they’re adding on top of it and making it even bigger.”
Frontier confirmed it will provide round trip tickets to Van Handorf and her husband, Joe, for the Feb. 13 game between the Bengals and the Rams.
“We saw the students on TikTok and were touched by their efforts to try to get their teacher to the Super Bowl,” said spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz.
Von Handorf said her persona as the Masked BenGal was a Halloween costume that she started wearing to Bengals games and tailgating parties in 2015. It includes a striped Bengal body suit with matching ears and mask, along with a cape with a Bengals ‘B’ on the back.
“I always wear this outfit, like even if I go to restaurants to watch the game,” she said. “I wear it proudly, any chance I get. Any time there’s an out of uniform or theme at school, you’ll see in this at least one of the days.”
@rileyspell Reply to @token.ginger.8 ♬ original sound - Ri
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